Review by PapaGamer

"This is a great game...for the year 2000"

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (CCF) for the PC is a game that appears to have been rushed into production by a bunch of first-year graphic arts students using old copies of Macromedia's Director software. While the voice-acting and FMV sequences are top-notch, the actual game sequences look and play like a children's game from five years ago.

The game pretty faithfully re-creates the 2005 movie of the same name, with a passable Johnny Depp impersonator as Wonka (all the children and Grandpa Joe are voiced by the same actors as in the movie). In between the full-motion videos are a variety of minigames, with gameplay elements ranging from simplistic to devilishly hard. While the game seems aimed at younger children, some of the minigames will make them cry in frustration. Older gamers will still find some of the minigames frustrating while growing bored with the others.

GRAPHICS

The FMV sequences are rendered in full 3D and beautifully capture the look of the film and the main characters. The gameplay sequences, on the other hand, are done in a flat 2D/3D hybrid with low-resolution characters and interactive objects. The game also runs slowly (see system specs below) and jerkily, as though I'm watching a Flash animation, rather than playing a game. These graphics would have looked great five years ago, now they seem horribly underwhelming.

GAMEPLAY

The minigames that comprise CCF are all over the place. Step-and-fetch games, race the clock games, logic puzzles, etc. etc. Some are quite simple. Some are so difficult, you'll be knocking your head on your keyboard in frustration. What is worse, the hard games are made hard by poor physics in the game engine, not by any inherent difficulty in figuring out the game.

For example, there is one minigame where you must sort square candies into same-colored pots. The candies slide down a table toward the waiting pots. You use the mouse to tilt the table to get the candies to slide where you wish. So far so good. The problems start when you drop a candy directly into a waiting dish and it disappears and then registers as a miss. Or, it bounces around the rim for five seconds before falling out. After four rounds of this madness, you'll wonder why you even bother playing this game.

Then there's the race-Violet-down-the-garbage-chute game. The controls lag so much, it is nearly impossible not to hit every single obstacle. Not to mention the course is designed so you frequently aren't even allowed to see an obstacle before you hit it.

In short, the simple games are boring and the other games are frustratingly hard because the game engine's physics just really, really suck.

SOUND

The one area where this game gets a decent score. All the actors, except Johnny Depp, provide the voices for their characters in the game. Only the five children, Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka are in the game. James Taylor, as Willy Wonka, does a pretty good Depp-as-Wonka imitation. The music is also offbeat and varied and doesn't start grating on the nerves.

SUMMARY

This is a game that should be watched, not played. The FMV, voice acting and music are all good and a nice complement to the film. The rest of the game is just bad.

Score: 4/10

Tested on Athlon XP 2400 with 512MB RAM, Realtek integrated audio, ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon 9600 with 128MB VRAM.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/20/05


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